2008-10-02 / Editorial


Raptor project helps raise awareness

Most Jamestowners are aware of the Conanicut Island Raptor Project. The osprey nest in Marsh Meadows along North Main Road attracts a large amount of interest in the summer months.

Fewer islanders know that they can watch the ospreys' life cycle online. A webcam was installed at the nest several years ago. Each season we can observe the raptors as they build their nest and raise their offspring.

Children are especially fascinated with the nesting raptors. They can view the birds live and up close on the computer and also see them from a distance at Marsh Meadows. It is an incredible learning experience.

The Conanicut Island Raptor Project serves two purposes. Its mission is to educate Jamestown students about the wildlife surrounding them. The project also raises money to help fund the research of Rob Bierregaard of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Bierregaard studies the osprey migration. He attaches a small transmitter to the young raptors so that he can track their movements via satellite. Adult osprey migrate to Cuba and South America in the winter. The juveniles migrate and spend their first year and a half in the south before returning to nest in the area where they were born.

The osprey tracking is available online. In addition to watching the birds nest in Jamestown, we can also keep track of their progress as they migrate.

The osprey are a threatened species. Their numbers declined dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s due to the pesticide DDT, which has since been banned in the United States, but is still used elsewhere in the world.

The species has since rebounded, but loss of habitat worldwide is a continuing problem.

The Conanicut Island Raptor Project is currently raising money to help fund the purchase of two transmitters to place on young raptors in 2009. Your help is needed. You can find out more information about the project online at www.conanicutraptors.com.

— Jeff McDonough

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